I was having a teleconference with an Italian perfume journalist. He asked me who I thought was doing the best creative direction in independent perfumery. I think there are two names which come right to the top of mind. One of them is Victor Wong of Zoologist. I have lauded Mr. Wong extensively but I will add this onto the pyramid. The biggest reason I think this, is he has remained true to his vision of creating different perfumes. The collection runs the gamut from crowd-pleasers to challenging. He has seemingly never compromised the creativity for commercial considerations. He has also managed to coax some of the best work from some of the best independent perfumers. It seems as if his reputation for this now has perfumers approaching him.
When Mr. Wong was in London for the 2018 Art and Olfaction Awards one of his fellow finalists approached him about a collaboration. The perfumer was Prin Lomros. They had corresponded previously when Mr. Lomros had described perfumes he had imagined paired to a specific animal. They decided now was the time to collaborate leading to Zoologist Sloth.
They decided they wanted to create a slowly unfurling perfume to mimic their totem animal. To achieve this they imagined their sloth hanging high in the trees safe from the predators below pillowed on a mossy branch. It forms a sleepy green perfume.
Mr. Lomros combines chamomile, lavender, marigold, and violet leaf. This is a cleverly different way of making a vegetal green accord. Chamomile and lavender have herbal facets which Mr. Lomros uses the violet leaf to accentuate and blend. The marigold has an astringent floral quality which provides a connection to the jasmine in the heart. This is what creates the tropical humidity of the rainforest. A very precise amount of cumin represents the sloth among the leaves and flowers. Beeswax adds in its gentle slowly oozing animalic character in sloth-like movement. The fecund scent of the forest comes in the base accord via tonka, myrrh, and oakmoss. Mr. Lomros uses enough of the oakmoss to notice. This is a classic velvety oakmoss effect. It feels just like the perfect place to lay a sloth’s head for a nap.
Sloth has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Within the spectrum of Zoologist perfumes Sloth is in the middle between crowd-pleaser and challenging. Although it has bits of both at different times. It speaks to all the things I think is great about Mr. Wong’s creative direction. It doesn’t smell like anything else in the collection. Mr. Lomros has made one of his best perfumes. Even when its sleepytime in the rainforest Sloth makes you take notice.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Zoologist.
Every perfume brand will have a breakout moment if they are good. In 2016 that moment happened for Victor Wong with the release of Zoologist Bat. To that point he was building a presence slowly and confidently. Bat would be the inflection point of attention. Mr. Wong would be lauded for his creative direction. Bat became the way many people discovered the brand. Then a disagreement with the perfumer had Mr. Wong facing a difficult decision. Do I just discontinue the perfume? Or do I try again? To his credit he has chosen to try again with Zoologist Bat (2020).
He met Thailand-based perfumer Prin Lomros a few years ago. Mr. Lomros approached him about making a perfume for Zoologist. He even had some perfume sketches for Mr. Wong to try. That has led to the release of Zoologist Sloth. When Mr. Wong made the decision to re-make Bat he asked Mr. Lomros to take the wheel.
The original perfumer, Dr. Ellen Covey, based the perfume on research she had done as part of her scholarly work studying bats. She wanted to capture the cave they lived in. The success speaks for itself. Mr. Lomros was asked to make a few slight changes a fruit here, a resin there. Make it your own but try and stay close to the way the original smelled, Mr. Wong asked. Instead Mr. Lomros created a version of Bat that reflects his part of the world and the species of bats that live there. This isn’t the same as the first Bat but it delivers different pleasures while staying true to the theme.
The keynote of the first version was geosmin; the perfume ingredient which smells like soil. Mr. Wong wanted that to be in the new version. Mr. Lomros takes his Bat to a different cave in a different part of the world.
Bat (2020) opens with an intensely fruity accord comprised mainly of guava while gaining depth through fig and passion fruit. This is a fruit forest of Asia where the fruit bats happily perch. The first hint of the bat comes though a full spectrum jasmine. The indoles let you know there is a furry animal within the florals and fruit. I enjoyed immensely the way the bat feels like it is trying to hide from detection but the animalic indoles give it away. Now is when the geosmin comes out as if it is the dirt of the forest floor. It has that tropical humidity to go with the soil. It is a fabulously different take. Along with the intense fruits and florals it comes together very well. The hidden bat takes wing and flees to its cave over the final stages as the stone and dirt become more pronounced. Olibanum, vetiver, and teakwood form the moss-covered walls of its lair.
Bat (2020) has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Bat (2020) is nothing like the original Bat it is its own beast. I have to give credit to both Mr. Wong and Mr. Lomros for seeing this through. It would have been so easy to walk away. That they chose to release another equally compelling version into the wild deserves praise. I enjoy it as much as I did the original because of the differences.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist Perfumes.